What is Light Pollution?
Light pollution may be described as the inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light.
Different forms of light pollution are: -
- Light spillage – illumination of areas beyond the boundary of the area intended to be lit up
- Glare - excessive brightness that can cause visual discomfort
- Sky glow - the brightening of the night sky, usually caused by the combined effect of multiple sources of light.
How to Avoid Causing Light Pollution
The Institution of Lighting Professionals publishes guidance as to how householders and businesses can avoid causing light pollution.
Guidance Note 9 Domestic exterior lighting: getting it right – this free publication provides straightforward guidance relating to domestic lighting including home security lighting.
Guidance Note 1 for the reduction of obtrusive light 2021 – this free publication provides more detailed and wide-ranging advice.
What is the law relating to light pollution?
Under section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, action can be taken by the Council in some cases to remedy nuisance problems. This is generally confined to excessive and unreasonable light spillage on to a neighbour’s property and/or the glare caused by unreasonably bright lights that are badly angled. However, it should be noted that certain premises where high levels of light are required for safety and security reasons are exempt from the legislation. These include:
- Railway premises
- Bus Stations and associated facilities
- Defence facilities
- Public service vehicle operating centre
- Goods vehicle operating centres
The law also recognises the need for some degree of lighting at sports facilities and on industrial, trade or business premises. The operators of such premises may have a valid defence in the law of ‘best practicable means'.
What to do if you are suffering from artificial light nuisance from premises
If you believe that nearby lighting is causing a nuisance to you then often the best way to deal with the problem is to approach the owner of the light to point out your concerns and try to seek a suitable remedy. You may find that they are unaware of the impact of the lighting.
Should this approach fail then you might consider contacting the Council’s Environment Protection team for further advice or to make a complaint.